Some of My Favourite Youtubers

I love watching Youtube videos, and I’ve seen quite a few posts by people sharing their favourite you tubers recently. Most recently, my best friend who runs the blog Sprinkled With Words did one (link here). And so I naturally decided to share some of mine.

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OKBaby

Here’s the thing. I don’t like children and I don’t find them particularly cute or anything, but this family is honestly adorable. I’ve been watching them for quite a long time now, and their vlogs are just lovely to wind down and watch.

 

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GirlReading 

She’s a British booktuber who seems really down to Earth and reads a lot of similar books (contemporary YA) to me, which is fun to watch. I find her videos a lot more calm than some youtubers, and she’s another I like to relax and watch.

 

photoSprinkled With Words

Obviously.

 

 

photo-2Ruby Granger

I’m not organised and often need some motivation to actually get down to work. Ruby somehow manages to study for 12 hours straight (I don’t know either, but hats off to her), and it’s a help. She’s also about to publish an ebook, which is pretty fab.

 

photo-3Family Fizz

I literally found this channel about a week ago, but I’ve really been enjoying watching some of their videos. They live such a unique lifestyle and are so lovely to watch.

 

dpHell on Earth

Okay this sounds like a bit of an odd one, but they’re urban explorers. They’re from Yorkshire (if you have even a vague knowledge of British accents you wouldn’t struggle to work that out once you started watching!) and they’re not exactly family friendly in terms of their language. But I’ve got a lot of respect for the way they treat the abandoned buildings (in one video they scared off vandals) and they make some pretty interesting and hilarious videos. They make a pleasant change if I’m feeling like watching something a bit different.

Which Youtubers do you like? Do you have any recommendations? ☺️

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Plans For Second Year

It’s odd to think that I’m in second year of university already. For the longest time, uni has been my goal in life; the place I wanted to get to. Many people have jobs or something in much later life that they strive for (maybe travel, family, or career for example), but uni for me was where I wanted to get to. It’s scary to think I’m almost halfway through.

I thought then, after finding study based youtube channels and study grams, that I should plan a bit more, and work out exactly what I want to achieve this coming year.

  1. Be organised and don’t turn up to a seminar not having finished the book. Okay, so I’m pretty sure everyone is guilty of this in some way, and in the first semester I think I made three seminars (in twelve weeks) where I had actually read the book. If that. No, I’m not proud of that at all, and I will say that my second semester was very different – I think there may have been one or two where I hadn’t completely finished a text, and I usually had a good reason too. This year though, I’m reading longer books, especially in my 19th Century Russian Literature module, and there is no way I can read Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment the night before the seminar – or even the week before for that matter! The improvement I made in the second semester can still be bettered in the new academic year.
  2. Start early with extra reading. I don’t actually mind extra reading and going to the library to find resources, in fact, it’s quite interesting. What I don’t particularly enjoy is reading five books one after the other about Père Goriot because I hadn’t read any previously. I’m thinking even if I’ve read one or two short essays on each book in advance, then it’s something I won’t have to do when I have three summatives due in within three days of each other.
  3. Focus on my health more. Having an autoimmune condition means that I need to keep an eye on my health as best I can. I guess I’m lucky in an odd way in that I get mouth ulcers when I’m run down, so I know when I’m not paying my body enough attention. I’ve recently focused a lot more on healthy eating (I went through a phase of eating so well but this went downhill at uni) and I have felt so much better. Getting enough sleep is a big deal for me too, as I get horrific headaches that border being migraines if I don’t. I also want to exercise more so that I’m not out of breath from walking a short distance, but that’s purely so I don’t look even more like a fool when I’m undoubtably late for a seminar. The final part to this is that I want to focus on my mental health. I’ve had all summer to work out what made me stressed or anxious in first year, and second year I’m going to avoid these things as best as I can.
  4. Make more time for writing. I study a creative writing degree but somehow it’s always the lowest priority. Why? I don’t know. But this needs to change. I’m hoping for an hour a day, but at the moment as much as possible is what is working.
  5. Be more organised. This probably goes without saying, and though I try to be organised, it usually fails. I’ve invested in a bullet journal and it’s already resulted in me making the conscious effort to try and do as much work as possible so that my productivity tracker looks more impressive… I improved massively last year regarding organisation, and this I want to further so that I can have more time for myself and my hobbies, as well as uni.

These are just some things that I’m hoping to focus on when I’m back at uni, and to be honest I’ve already started working on them (I’ve nearly finished the first book for the Russian Lit module🎉).

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I’m looking forward to getting back to this gorgeous place – this photo was from an afternoon that I spent reading by the lake on campus.

Music I Love

So  I thought I’d do a slightly different post for today and veer away from books and writing and talk about some music and artists I love. I have certain musicians that I always come back to time and again and I thought I’d give them a little bit of love on here.

Walk Off the Earth 

This is one of my absolute favourite groups to exist, honestly. They’re unique and their songs are just incredible. Many of them tackle deeper issues with their catchy, upbeat tunes (though their latest – ‘Taekwondo’ – is just a love song (thought I’d put money that it’s them partially making a joke about conventional romantic songs)). I have followed this band since their ‘5 peeps 1 guitar‘ video went viral a good few years ago and I can’t recommend them enough. If I manage to have half as much fun as it looks like they have in my future, I will be living a good life. I am impatiently awaiting UK tour dates…

Lucy Spraggan

I saw her live back in February and she was phenomenal. She was on the X Factor a good few years ago and since then she has released three albums, the latest on her own label. If I’m honest, I’m glad she left the x factor (due to illness I should add) because she is not the generic pop artist that succeed on that show (nothing wrong with them but Lucy has the most incredible talent) as she writes her own songs and they tell magnificent stories. ‘Tea and Toast’ was sung on the show, but ‘Dear You‘ was one of her most powerful (listening to her sing it live choked me up).

Oh Wonder

These guys are the ones I quite often go to when I write, as their music is calming but wonderful. I’m seeing them at uni in November and I can’t wait, although I’ve yet to listen to their newest album for some reason. If you want something raw and unique, these guys are the ones to listen to.

Amy Macdonald 

I have distinct memories of listening to her original album on the way to Scotland for a family holiday years and years ago. To this day, I still love that album. She’s got four out now, and her voice is so unique and distinctive, I just love it. I also remember all of the words to ‘Mr Rock and Roll‘ without shame. She’s another brilliant songwriter and just worth a listen.

The Piano Guys

These. I get goosebumps when I listen to their phenomenal arrangements of both pop and classical songs. I have seen them live twice, the second time in the Royal Albert Hall, which was amazing. Quite a few people have pulled a face when I’ve mentioned the word classical, but then have gone on to say that they enjoy what these guys do with music. I discovered these the same day I discovered WOTE (a good day for music for me!) and haven’t looked back. They came up in the recommendations on youtube as they do 5 people one piano, playing ‘What Makes you Beautiful‘ (even if you hate One Direction please, this is incredible!).

Collabro

If you enjoy musical theatre, you must try listening to Collabro. Their covers of musical theatre songs made the hairs stand up on my arms, even more so when I heard them live. Here’s the link to ‘Memory‘ from Cats, one of my all time favourite songs from one of my favourite musicals. The first time I heard them sing on Britain’s Got Talent, they sung Stars from Les Mis, which I swear is one of the reasons I love their music so much as that is probably my favourite musical theatre song full stop.

Frank Turner

You can blame Hannah completely for my love for Frank Turner. I went to a gig of his at uni with her and he was just absolutely fantastic and from then on I’ve been listening to his music. He’s another super talented musician and is brutally honest in his songs (which I love). I’m so so glad that I’ve been introduced to his music as it’s exactly the kind of sound I enjoy and I will continue to listen to him for a long time.

As you can tell, I tend to listen to a variety and there aren’t really any ‘mainstream’ artists in this list. I prefer musicians who write their own songs mainly, but also something that is unique. I had the music TV channel on a while ago and all of the chart toppers sounded identical to me, and not the kind of music I particularly like. If you love chart music then great! Which are your favourite songs?

A New Writing Project and What I’m Doing Differently

So I’ve tried writing a number of things before but I always end up reverting back to poetry. Poetry is what I’ve always written (though not necessarily well), and it’s definitely my comfort zone. However, I have made several attempts at novels, which usually just fizzle out before I even manage halfway.

So I’ve had one novel on the go for nearly two years now; I started it during NaNoWriMo of 2015. I’m at 43,000 words, which is the most I’ve ever got with a novel, and I also love the idea. The problem? I just don’t know where to go with it at this point in the plot. Something needs to happen, but I just can’t think of anything that is worthwhile. The writing itself is poor as well; it’s slow, choppy, and I change my mind mid sentence so often that it would be impossible for anyone other than myself to read it. This will all be sorted out in editing though, so I told myself it doesn’t matter at this point. Realistically, it doesn’t but it’s another thing to think about when I’m writing.

Instead then, of putting it off repeatedly and in fact getting nothing written whatsoever, I have made the conscious decision to put it on the back burner for a while. Whilst some people I imagine would struggle with this idea, it’s definitely the right one for me if I want to actually get writing again – which I desperately do. I had some characters and thoughts in my head for another project, this one a YA contemporary instead of adult dystopian, so I decided to build on them, and build on them I have.

I spent a lot of time developing the characters and their families, adding diversity to the cast and uniqueness to individual characters. I feel as though the uniqueness can be worked on, but I’ve not quite finished planning and I do feel as though smaller details will be added when I’m writing it properly as they always do. However, I’ve made sure to plan development and changes as those often go forgotten as I write.

Planning is the big change I’ve made with this project and the one I’ve put aside. This time I’ve made sure to plan each chapter in detail, and instead of writing ‘talk about x’, I’ve actually made a note of what to say. There are a couple of details that I haven’t quite worked out yet, but I’ll either go back to them before or as I write (when I say minor details they are things like the colour of something etc). With my other project, I’d plan a few chapters ahead and very vaguely, so I had an idea of what was coming but after that I had to go back to planning. I thought this worked for me – and to an extent it did – as there were things I just hadn’t thought of that I thought of later which really added to the plot and took the narrative in a new direction. But it obviously doesn’t truly work because I just stopped. I couldn’t think of anything and I stopped. Lesson learned there, and when I decide eventually where to take it, I will plan the rest a lot more thoroughly.

I’m hoping that because my plan is so detailed, once I finish it, I will be able to get the first draft finished fairly quickly. I’m not necessarily a fast writer and can’t write 10,000 words in a day, but it shouldn’t take me nearly two years. I’ve spent a while on this plan, and I’m not quite finished with it (I’ve got about four chapters left), and I had originally planned to keep it around 40,000 words and a novella. I made the mistake of adding a major plot point in what should have been the penultimate chapter though, so it’s become a novel! It does make the story a lot better though so I’m not complaining. I’m aiming for around 2,500 words per chapter, for reference, though some of the plans make me think that this may be exceeded!

Are there any tips that you have when it comes to planning? I seem to have gone from one extreme (barely planning) to another (massively detailed planning), but I’m hoping it works.

Also, have a cute picture of my dogs swimming when we were on holiday because I didn’t know what picture to take for this post!

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YALC 2017

I had such an amazing time at YALC, it was my first time going and I went with my best friend Hannah (She has a blog and youtube). It ran from the 28th-30th July, and we had three day passes, and I am now absolutely exhausted after it!

Friday 28th

My train left my hometown at 7:08am, so needless to say it was an early start for me (5:30 was when my alarm went off!). I got to Olympia, where YALC was held, for about 9:15 though, so that wasn’t too bad. Hannah arrived not long after and we headed in straight away to get our wristbands. Because we were in quite early we got a YALC tote bag with various samplers and goodies in, which we got signed by the authors across the weekend. We both also bought lanyards to pin the badges that we had on, as most stands were giving away free badges!

We started off the signings with Hannah Witton, and proceeded to get so many signatures that I honestly can’t remember the order. A highlight was being Katherine Webber’s first YALC signing as I absolutely adored her book Wing Jones (I’d highly, highly recommend it!).

We also went for a wander around all of the stalls, looking at all of the free samplers and merch they were giving out. From the Fairyloot stall I got a candle (and a cushion cover on the Saturday). There were all sorts of competitions and things going on to get various arcs, one of which I won – I had to put a picture on twitter using a hashtag and they picked a winner at the end of the day (I won an arc of Things a Bright Girl Can Do).

We stayed in an airbnb for the first night, which was basic but had everything we needed and we just headed back to get an early night as we were both exhausted!

Saturday 29th

We headed out pretty early and got to YALC not long after it had opened, after stopping for breakfast on our walk there. It was easier to get in this time as we already had our wristbands, and we went straight in, wandering around the stalls (and Waterstones), and planning who to meet.

Hannah and I popped down to Comic-con for a little while, though I was very out of my depth as I have little interest in pretty much everything comic-con focuses on! It was still great to see however, especially seeing the effort that went into people’s cosplay. Would I go just for comic-con? No. Am I glad I have been? Yes.

We also met Sanne from the channel booksandquills (which I adore) and I’m quite proud I approached her, as I was too scared to approach other youtubers! She seemed so friendly (and indeed turned out to be once we spoke to her!) which made me more comfortable, and I’m so so glad we said hi as she was so lovely and had a picture with us.

V. E. Schwab and Laini Taylor were both signing on this day, and as Hannah was participating in a competition I met them to get our books signed. Later that day, they were part of a panel called ‘Books That Made Me’, which was really great to listen to (especially listening to V. E. Schwab basically fangirling over and recounting her stories of meeting Neil Gaiman).

Straight after the panel, Non Pratt shaved her head for charity, which was hilarious to watch as everyone was having a laugh. Not only that, but Benedict Cumberbatch walked in part way through and looked very bemused!

Sunday 30th

I started off the sunday alone at YALC as Hannah was at a baking event as part of her prize for the mentioned competition. The previous night we’d stayed in a fancy hotel courtesy of MyKindaBook (as part of Hannah’s prize) and it was gorgeous!

I went to a lot of signings in the morning, and generally wandered around for a bit, somehow managing to get myself an arc of The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven which I desperately wanted and had been trying to get all weekend. (I’ve started it already and it’s so so fab).

I got Countless signed by Karen Gregory, which was a book I adored and really hoped to get signed, and I also got a load signed by Non Pratt (two for Hannah and three for me – I’d got Truth or Dare signed on the Friday), and honestly she was one of the nicest people I think I have ever met. She was super chatty, which was lovely as I was on my own and can be a bit shy, and just generally seemed to be a lovely person (although pretty much everyone there seemed to be!).

Hannah joined me at around 1:30 ish (honestly I can’t really remember) – just after I’d met Sarah Crossan and gushed about how much I love her writing (oops) – bearing brownies, so we grabbed some drinks, nachos, and seats and took a moment from the crowds. We went to a few more signings; Moira Fowley-Doyle (who was so lovely – again), and Patrick Ness, who was the big name of the Sunday. We were lucky as they were handing out tickets with numbers on and we were fairly early on in the queue, and I know it got very long just in the short while we were watching them give them out. Patrick Ness was great, and as we finished up at YALC so early we went back down to comic-con to have a better look around. I still felt like a fish out of water, but it was quieter so much, much nicer to wander around and take it all in!

Thoughts

YALC was genuinely such an amazing experience and I’m so glad I went. I’m also very glad I took a large suitcase that was very empty on my way down because I gained / bought so many books whilst there (oops). It was fantastic to meet so many authors of books that I’d loved, and the community feel was strong, I noticed how everyone was comfortable and happy, which was so so good.

Hannah and I are already hoping to go next year (though for two or three days depends on whether I manage to get an internship or not!), and we’ve definitely learned a lot about what to do, how to organise it etc. Whether I could have managed a fourth day, I highly doubt, as I was absolutely exhausted – I got home at nearly 10pm on the Sunday night. It’s extremely intense for the three days, but so worth it.

You can view my book haul from YALC over on my Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/I6X_QfZ_hUU

Ten Writing Prompts

As part of my creative writing course, we had to create our own writing prompts. I felt pretty proud of mine, so I thought I’d share them with you!

  1. In a public place, create a story from the first thing you hear someone say.
  2. Avoid using punctuation (except that which changes the word, like an apostrophe).
  3. Write a conversation without direct speech.
  4. Look on your local ‘buy and sell’ page, write something about an item listed.
  5. Write about what frustrates you.
  6. Create a menu without naming any foods.
  7. Pick an emotion and describe it. Once done, write it again, but opposite (i.e. if your chosen emotion was negative, then the rewrite will be positive).
  8. Write about something human that you can’t see, e.g. electricity, wi-fi.
  9. Find an old Facebook post. Write as you did then.
  10. Make the most boring thing you can think of interesting.

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Finally have a picture that I took at uni as a prompt!

Christmas and Birthday Book Haul

I got a few books for christmas and my birthday (the 29th) and so I want to share them with you. I also bought a few on my birthday / with my birthday money and so I’ll list those too! There are a fair few for christmas because my family like to ask what we want, so I always ask for certain books, I’m not going to list who they’re from but if you happen to read this and you gave me one / some… thank you!

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Christmas

The Wonder – Emma Donoghue

The Sellout – Paul Beatty

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy

Eileen – Ottessa Moshfegh

All That Man Is – David Szalay

His Bloody Project – Graeme Macrea Burnet

Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien

Half of a Yellow Moon, Purple Hibiscus, Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

Submarine – Joe Dunthorne

Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh

The Book of Memory – Petina Gappah

Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell

Burmese Days – George Orwell

On Writing – Stephen King

Jane Austen Boxed Set

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Birthday

White Teeth – Zadie Smith

The Art of Fiction – John Gardner

The Road to Wigan Pier – George Orwell

Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell

The Penguin Lessons – Tom Michell

Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

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Purchased on My Birthday

Les Misérables – Victor Hugo (I bought a pretty edition – I did already have a copy of this)

The Casual Perfect – Lavinia Greenlaw

The Beach – Alex Garland

God Bless You, Mr Rosewater – Kurt Vonnegut

 

Ebooks Purchased

(these were all on offer – £1.19 was the most I paid for one of the books, the rest were less)

The Dark Days Club – Alison Goodman

The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

Our Chemical Hearts – Krystal Sutherland

This Savage Song – V. E. Schwab

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls – Lynn Weingarten

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

We All Looked Up – Tommy Wallach